hello

Greetings to each and everyone of you.


This section for English-speaking viewers –
and all those enjoying the culture –

has developed over the months and is now offering materials of all kinds:

texts, images, poems, videos, etc.

It will continue to provide you with rich contents week after week.

 

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter K

K pour kilometers

The word ‘kilometer’ is not found in the texts of the gospel.
But… Jesus has surely travelled hundreds of them in his life!

We constantly see him on the road to some place:

  • on the road to Bethany (Luke 10:38);
  • on the road to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51);
  • on the road to Emmaus (Luke24:13-32).

 John, the apostle, shows him leaving Judaea for Galilee – a journey of some 112 kilometers (John 4:3).

As for Luke, he reveal to us: “Jesus went through every city and village, preaching…” (Luke 8:1).

When people try to keep him at a certain place, he replies:
 “Let us go somewhere else to the nearby villages so I can preach there also. That is why I have come” (Mark 1:38).

All that moving about, all the distance covered, all the trips throughout Palestine, all these have a deep message for me.
They give me to discover… God – the God of Jesus Christ!

A God who comes to us, a God who reaches us where we are…

He had already started in Bethlehem, the place of his birth.
His parents, Mary and Joseph, had to leave Nazareth and made the journey up to that place.
God has come to us, he has become one of us, and he has shared our travelling existence!

Since then, he walks with us and accompanies us on our paths –paths of joy, paths of sorrow –
he has had the experience of them.
He remains the faithful companion, always present on the road of our earthly pilgrimage…

 

Source: Image: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

 

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter J

J pour Judge

Some words of Jesus are without appeal.
There is no way to discuss, or to hesitate, or even to delay in putting them into practice.

It is the case of the text of Luke, the gospel writer, reporting Jesus words (Luke 6:37-38)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. 
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 
Give, and it will be given to you”. 

Some will reply without delay:
“But we must judge…
Judge whether an affirmation is true, or false.
Judge whether a situation is dangerous, or not.
Judge whether a proposition is legal, or dishonest.
Judge whether a bargain is genuine, or deceitful.”

Of course, it is necessary to judge words, actions, situations.
Jesus does not prone naivety, nor credulity.
But he does not accept that we judge people.

Yet, this is what we do quite often…
We lend to some people intentions that they do not have.
We see in them defects which are not so.
We sometimes hold them responsible for misdeeds they have not committed.
Our judgements are based on inaccurate reporting.
The reputation we ascribe to them is without real basis, pure invention on our part…

The text of the apostle Luke goes on with a parable of Jesus which asks us a disturbing question:

“How can you say to your brother,
 ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’
when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?” (Luke 6:41).

Probably, an answer that is true would be… an admission on our part…
And a resolve… NOT to judge!

 

Note: In a short video (in French), Nadia Labrecque continues the reflection on this subject: https://youtu.be/VgR5FioXrAw?si=NydqkSUvogRvuAbE

 

Source: Image: Scripture Images

 

 

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter I

I for Invitation

Invitations – we receive all kinds of them.
In times past, we used to receive them in the mail, or someone brought them to us.
Nowadays, the emails and social media bring them to us with an amazing frequency!

Invitation to join a group.
Invitation to take part in a celebration.
Invitation to collect funds for a certain cause.
Invitation to help some people in need.
Invitation for some teamwork here, or there.
Invitation to walk for, or against, a given situation.
Invitation to a meeting of former students of this college, or that association.

Invitations, again and again… each with its own face:
family reunion, gathering of friends, political meeting, religious celebration…

If I asked you if you ever received an invitation from… Jesus, what would your reaction be?
He has indeed addressed one which is clearly presented in the gospel of Matthew:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light  » (Matthew 11:28-30).

An invitation that is absolutely unique.
And it comes from someone who knows us well –
someone who knows how much we sometimes need rest…

Someone who understands how we are sometimes exhausted –
with no energy, no courage, not even with the desire to go on living…

He invites us to be his disciples because he knows that this is what will give meaning to our life.
To follow him, the Master, will give a direction to our daily experiences… a vision to our commitments…

A Master who is gentle and lowly in heart– a description that is rare and so encouraging!
We should not miss such an invitation…

 

Source: Image: pexels.com (amine)

 

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter H

H for Hypocrite

Among the members of religious associations of different denominations,
at times, there is a disease that sours relationships –
relationships with one another and, also, the relationship with… God.

Unfortunately, this affliction often remains without treatment,
even though it is truly harmful.
This disease is that of… ‘pharisaism’!

You smile, but you know very well what it is about.
Its symptoms are all too obvious.
Jesus has described them in a memorable way in one of his well-known parables.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, 
Jesus told this parable: 
‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people –
robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 
I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

But the tax collector stood at a distance.
He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said,
‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.
For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled,
and those who humble themselves will be exalted’.” (Luke 18:9-14)

Display of arrogance,
despising others,
ignoring their good intentions,
being indifferent to their efforts to do good.

Being self-satisfied,
satisfied of one’s irreproachable conduct,
satisfied of one’s personal realizations worthy of admiration,
even satisfied of one’s exemplary religious practices!

Boasting about one’s achievements of all that is required… to impress people around!
God himself should be proud of such a servant faithful to all that can be expected of him!

The problem is that this apparently faithful servant is giving glory to himself
rather than thanking God who is helping him to become what he, God, desires.
This person is not aware that his fidelity is the work of God’s Spirit at work in him.
 
Such becoming aware is one of the essential attitudes required of us during this Lenten period.

 

Source: Image: https://achristianpilgrim.wordpress.com

2nd Sunday of Lent, Year B – 2024

What God truly wants.
This is the title I would give to the 1st reading of this Sunday (Genesis 22:1-2,9-13,15-18).

The scene depicted in this text is vivid and refers to a situation prevalent in years long past.
It was a period when child sacrifices were not uncommon for people who wanted to please their gods.
The word ‘gods’ is used here in the plural, yet the text of Genesis speaks of Yahweh, THE God of the Jewish people, the only true God.
Some people reading this story would be amazed, and shocked, at what is proposed here.

From the beginning we are told:
“God tested Abraham”.
And what a test!

“God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac –
and go to the region of Moriah. 
Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

As a true believer, Abraham does not question God’s order, and he sets out to do what is asked of him.
But the offering of Isaac as a sacrifice was NOT what God truly wanted.
God himself provided what was to be a burnt offering – a ram caught by its horns in a thicket.

For an unknown reason, verse 14 has been omitted from the reading.
Yet, it gives us a meaningful interpretation of God’s gesture:

“Abraham called that place ‘The Lord Will Provide’.
And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided’.”

Three words starting with a T:
Testing, Trial, Transformation…
What God Truly wanted.

Perhaps he wanted… still wants… that we understand that if/when we really want to please him,
he will enable us to do so – HE will provide…

 

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French, at: https://image-i-nations.com/2e-dimanche-du-careme-annee-b-2024/

Source: Image: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

 

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter G

G for GREAT

The scenes of the gospel have sometimes a very contemporary aspect.
We could recognize ourselves there as in a mirror.
We must admit that the imperfections and the limitations of the characters can sometimes be found… in us!

The following text shows it clearly:

“They (Jesus and his apostles) came to Capernaum. 
When he was in the house, he asked them, 
‘What were you arguing about on the road?’
But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, 
‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all’.” (Mark 9:33-35).

To be great, no, to be the greatest – this is what we want, is it not?
To distinguish oneself…
To outdo the others…
To be more appreciated than people around us…
To take the first place…
To have a reputation which surpasses that of others…
To be treated with the respect that makes us stand out…

Like the apostles, we would not want to say it aloud.
It is better not to proclaim it openly but still… attain the desired status!

But Jesus gives a piece of advice which goes against our way of thinking.
A single sentence which challenges us with force:

“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all”.

The apostles did not choose spontaneously this path to greatness.
And, usually, we are not more inclined to do so…

We need to learn… day after day…
Following the teaching of the Master… listening to his Spirit reminding us of this message…

 

Source: Image: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

 

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter F

F for Faith

To have faith, it is… to believe, you will say.
Of course… but still?
It is to accept a set of propositions on a given topic.
You are right but… only this?

A short text of the gospel reveals more:
 “As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out,
‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’
When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, 
‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied.
Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you’; 
and their sight was restored” (Matthew 9:27-30).

Jesus’ question was clear: ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’
The two blindmen did not proclaim their faith in some formulas.
They did not accept a list of beliefs which they should give their assent to.
They simply replied “Yes” to someone.

They relied on someone – this is faith – to trust someone reliable!
To dare to rely on someone, to dare to surrender to… God.

He who, since long ago, has told us through the prophet Isaiah:
“You are precious in my sight… I love you” (Isaiah 43:4).

A conviction which opens up to a relationship absolutely unique… with God himself.
Daring… to believe it…
 

Source: Image: https://goodnewsshared.wordpress.com/     

 

 

 

 

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter E

E pour ENEMIES 

There are things which are not easy to do…
There are others that we find really hard to realize…
But there are still others that we find absolutely impossible to accomplish!…

The words of Jesus cannot be misinterpreted (Matthew 5:43-45).
They reach us, every one of us, personally:

“You have heard that it was said,
‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 
But I tell you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you.”

It seems to us that this is really… impossible.
Those who persecute us – to treat them the very opposite than the way they behave towards us!

Our whole being rebels against this, we do not even want to think about it.
Who can act in this way?

But Jesus adds:
“That you may be children of your Father in heaven.
 He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”.

This is the motivation that can help us: becoming the children of our Father in heaven…
He knows as well as we do – better than we do – that, left to ourselves, we cannot be like him.

If he asks this from us, we can, in our turn, ask him to enable us to do it!
Enable us to do it by giving us his own Spirit who will make us like him: compassionate and forgiving.

 

Note: In a video (in French), Diane Conte helps us to continue this reflection: https://youtu.be/JJQ6-D5w548?si=HQ0aN0xgDlsNIsy3

 

Source: Image: The Noontimes

 

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter D

D for DISCIPLES

The expression: ‘The DISCIPLES of Jesus’ is familiar to us.
Apart from the twelve apostles whose names we know, the gospel speaks also of seventy-two disciples (Luke 10:1-24).

We imagine them listening to Jesus and following him on the roads where he walks.
Our imagination does not lead us astray: to listen to Jesus and to follow him, this is the true meaning of being a disciple.  

However, there is another aspect that is required to be an authentic disciple of Christ.
Having listened to his message and walking in his steps, we then need to live according to his teaching.

But then, something wonderful takes place.
The gospel writer, Luke, speaks about it in these terms:

“He turned to his disciples and said privately, 
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 
For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Luke 10:1-24).

To be a Christian, is it not to be a disciple of Christ? Of course, it is!
Could we say that our experience following the Master allows us to see what Jesus speaks about?

Have we recognized in him the image of God made flesh?
Have we received the words that he addresses to each one of us?
Have we experienced the love and compassion that he has for us personally?

If so, then we are indeed happy!!

 

Source: Image: The Wandering Shepherd

 

 

 

The Alphabet of Lent – Letter C

C for Calm

Daily life often brings much to upset our plans and shake us.
All that we had foreseen to do and all that suddenly comes up – this is all too much.
And apart from all the activities of the moment, there are those that we must foresee.

We feel upset, threatened, overwhelmed.
We are often tired, bitter, anxious.
We experience the feeling of being caught… in a storm.
We need so much… CALM.  

It is then that the gospel text of Mark comes to our rescue: 
 
“They took him along, just as he was, in the boat…
 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.   
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.
The disciples woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”  
Then the wind died down and it was completely calm” (Mark 4:36-39).

Exactly what we need at certain periods in our lives.
And the one who calm the storm on the Sea of Galilea can do the same with all our own storms –
the storms of our fears, our regrets, our weaknesses, our guilt no matter how heavy.

The calm that he offers brings peace and serenity… a great calm, indeed!
 

Note: In the following video (in French), Teresa Peñafiel helps us to continue this reflection: https://youtu.be/54Z7yFrLzyE?si=yQOOtZ1L6jIZnKfA

 

Source: Image: Scripture Images